They Want U: A College Fair in Boston Helps Connect Gay and Lesbian Students with Schools Who Want Them on Campus. (Education)

Article excerpt

Applying for college is stressful enough without having to worry about whether you can be comfortable being out on campus. And addressing sexual orientation is seldom a part of a university recruiter's "come to our school" pitch. But that's starting to change since last spring, when Massachusetts state officials held the first-ever gay and lesbian college fair, in Boston.

"We saw lots of gay high school students wasting energy worrying if they should put down that they were gay on their applications," says Mark Taggart of the Massachusetts Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, which organized the fair along with the state's annual gay-straight youth pride celebration. "We also saw that lots of colleges were trying to reach gay youth and that there was no venue where the two of them could come together, so we said, `Let's try a college fair.'"

More than 1,000 prospective students and 40 colleges and universities, including traditionally conservative schools such as Boston College, attended the fair. And organizers expect to have 100 schools at a second event next spring. "We never dreamed it would have this level of impact," Taggart says. "There is a definite movement in college recruitment to reach LGBT students."

Just how significant a movement, however, is still unclear. Recruitment of gay students--in the way many schools do for students from other minority groups--hasn't started yet. …